Distributed to Village members, volunteers and the public. The Ashby Village Member & Volunteer Digest, published between newsletters, is available to members only.


In This Issue
News Flash!
Upcoming Events
Giving & Receiving
Programs & Services
Stories We Tell
What About Villages

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Berkeley, CA 94704

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Fall 2014

To help guide the intentions of our Village, we have given each year a named focus. We've been pleased by the excellent progress we've made these past two years.

2013 was "The Year of Connection and Engagement," and we witnessed the launch of Neighborhood Groups, an increase in the number of Interest Groups, and a noted rise in participation at Ashby Village events.


2014 has been "The Year of Inspiring Leadership." Members helping to guide the Neighborhood Groups formed a Council, meeting monthly to share best practices and encourage the addition of new groups. Volunteers overseeing Ashby Village programs and services stepped into their full authority in their monthly meetings of the Program Leadership Team (PLT). With these new leadership bodies in place, the Board moved forward with its efforts to transition from working/founding to governance; two Berkeley Board Fellows did a thorough review and made recommendations for board structure, responsibility and committees. In their final report, they affirmed that the "shared values and a common sense of purpose among Board members are hallmarks of Ashby Village."


We are naming 2015 "The Year of Stewardship." Ashby Village envisions coupling connections and leadership of the past two years with the careful, responsible financial management of our Village. With a membership now numbering over 300 and our leadership structure in place, the strategic focus will shift toward economic sustainability through philanthropy, grants and strategic business alliances. Creating a solid financial base is critical to ensuring long-term stewardship and organizational viability.

Andy addresses the national Village convening in Washington, DC


We hope you agree that together we've made great strides in achieving an Ashby Village that serves our community well. We invite you to join us in achieving our vision.


Andy Gaines
Executive Director
Ashby Village Photo Show

By Karin Evans

photo exhibit winner

"Swarthmore Spring" 

by Beth Burnside

The first Ashby Village Juried Photo Exhibit is drawing to a close on October 10th at the LightRoom Gallery, 2263 Fifth Street in Berkeley, and Tomate Café next door. The photographs, all by Village members, are engaging and diverse: Paris at dusk, a koi pond in China, a solitary older woman huddled in a corner in Spain, a young boy basking in the sun at the seashore. There are 37 images in all, including one by Beth Burnside that the judges selected as the exhibit "signature photo," a pair of empty chairs framed by a tree exploding in lush pink blossoms.


The show, aimed at building a sense of connection, community and creative engagement among Village members, was the brainchild of charter member Russ Ellis and was a long time
Russ Ellis welcomes guests and speaks of  creativity, age and engagement
in the making. A retired professor of sociology in the 
Department of Architecture at the University of California, Berkeley, as well as former Vice Chancellor, Ellis has over the years been passionately engaged in numerous civic activities. In 2011, he and his wife, Julie Gordon Shearer, were honored by the Berkeley City Council for their many contributions to the arts and youth. In retirement, Ellis has concentrated on his own artwork as -a painter and sculptor as well as photographer. He has had several previous gallery exhibits, in Marin and the East Bay.
To read entire article, CLICK HERE.


The Ashby Village Juried Photo Exhibit is open through October 10 at the Light Room Gallery, 2263 Fifth Street, Berkeley, California. Hours are Weekdays, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. 


90s Tea Party

By Enid Pollack

At a recent Ashby Village event, two members discovered they had something special in common - they are both over 90 years old. They had a lively and engaging encounter and 

Janet Messman reconnects with Betsy 
Hess-Behrens (and dog Greta) at Tea

remarked that there is just something about having achieved the age of 90 that gives them a certain connection. They share similar life knowledge, having experienced historical events of great magnitude,  and they have something else - call it " wisdom" -  derive from so many years of life. They agreed that they are a special, vibrant and actively youthful population.


They also agreed that a gathering of similarly aged Ashby Village members would be a great idea. They  expressed the idea to staff, and the "90's Tea Party" was launched. It was held on Sept 24th at the Ashby Village office, and the response was very enthusiastic. A nearly full complement of all village members over 90 were there.


Each guest stood and introduced herself - there were three men, too -  and the pride they took in having achieved those many years of life was clearly evident. Almost all had resided in the

community for a very long time, and most had come to

Bob Apte introduces himself, with
Nancy Adams (beside), CeCe Curwich,
Donald Foley and DJ Rohl (toward back)

it from another part of the state or nation. Between each speaker, there was a buzz in the room as people discovered something new and fascinating about their fellow Ashby Village members.


Also on hand was a young volunteer photojournalist - Zoe Meyers - who hopes to spend time with these 90 year olds individually, interview and photograph them for a book or online project, as another form of discovery and recognition of this demographic. She will be meeting with them individually later this fall.


Sharing homemade coffee cakes, cookies, donated fresh fruit, coffee and tea added to the enjoyment of the event, but it was the appreciation of each other and their achievements that made the party an outstanding success.


"When can we do this again?" was a question heard by many as the tea party guests found their volunteer drivers for the trip home. "We want more times like this to see our new friends."


Nan Geffen, Veronika Fukson and 
Marcia Freedman at picnic
Summer Picnic

Over 70 members and volunteers enjoyed the glorious Bay Area sunshine at the annual picnic held in the Padre picnic spot in Tilden Park. Excellent food was provided by the Ashby Village potluck cooks, and everyone in attendance took the opportunity to catch up with friends and make new ones. It was "all hands on deck," with hardworking setup and cleanup crews pitching in to help make this event a big success.

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Activities sponsored by Ashby Village and its members

Please see the full calendar of events on our website, announcements of upcoming interest and neighborhood group meetings, and more.  Members can log into the website to register. Events are open to the public except where specified. Following are upcoming events for prospective members and/or volunteers.

Mystery Beauty at 
last years' Halloween Happy Hour


Halloween Fest

Friday, Oct. 31, 2014, 4:00 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.

Ashby Village, 2330 Durant Ave., Berkeley

This will be a time to meet other Ashby Villagers and enjoy the festivities.  Everyone is encouraged to come dressed as someone (or something) different, fun, odd, wild, crazy...


Living Room Chat

Sunday, Nov. 9, 2014, 2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.

At a member's home, Berkeley, CA

We give those who might be interested in joining our Village an opportunity to hear from our Board Members about what it means to be part of the Village. This is an excellent opportunity to ask questions, and there are always lively discussions. To read more or to register, click here or call the office.


Community Building Potluck

Friday, Nov. 14, 2014, 4:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.

Ashby Village Office, 2330 Durant Ave., Berkeley 

Sharing and eating good food together has always been a way to build community. 

Why not take an opportunity like this to meet up with Villagers from other parts of our area, and catch up with members and volunteers you haven't seen in a while? Bring a dish and a bottled beverage to share. If your dish is one of your favorites, please bring the recipe! We are collecting recipes to publish in an Ashby Village recipe booklet.


Volunteer Training & Orientation

Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014, 9:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

Ashby Village Office, 2330 Durant Ave., Berkeley 

Volunteers support members through transportation, home handiwork, assistance at medical appointments, home safety assessment and more. To learn more about becoming a volunteer and participating in this training, please contact the office.   


Ashby Village Holiday Dessert Potluck

Saturday, Dec. 6, 2014, 3:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Northbrae Community Church, 941 The Alameda, Berkeley

Let's gather for fun and celebration in community, connecting with old and new friends. This time we're doing something for our sweet teeth! Bring a dessert to share and enjoy. Our gathering will savor the sweets of 2014 and celebrate those in the year to come.   

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Expressions of Gratitude

Of all the wonderful people who have been helping me, Rondi was the latest who went that extra mile. In this case I should say 'miles' because she got up early to take me to an 8:30 appointment at Kaiser She was an utter delight! Not only did I appreciate her help, but I found her company to be fascinating. That's one of the great bonuses of this program: the great people you meet and the way it expands the world for us.

Submitted by Member Betsy

Kris did a great job of being my MedPal for cataract surgery yesterday and a return check-up visit today. She really knows how to be supportive in the moments most needed and keeps track of everything, which is a big help for me.

Submitted by Member Anna

Betty Webster, Nancie Hughes and Philip Packard stretching with yoga teacher Lisa Brooks
I want to rave about the class of the new program of Yoga which I attended at Ashby Village. The instructor, Lisa, is superb! Anyone with needs for stress reduction, improved circulation, relaxation, flexibility, building muscles and strength, increased concentration and focus or improved balance should give it a try. An experienced teacher who suits the program to the needs and limitations or strengths of the individual students, Lisa is a friendly, delightful person with whom to work. Don't miss out on this good benefit of membership in Ashby Village.
Submitted by Member Janet


Thank you a bundle for the ride you got us to the picnic. Michela is a super sweetie. Not only did I not have to drive, but she certainly helped make it possible for me to relax.

Submitted by Member Dottie

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Collaboration with TTN-Home

TTN-Home, Ashby Village and North Oakland Village are pleased to announce a collaborative partnership which will produce events for the "East Bay Housing Options Series." The Transition Network ("TTN") is a nationwide organization of women over the age of 50 who are dealing with transitions in their lives - career, health, housing and relationships. "East Bay Housing Options Series" is TTN-HOME's in-depth monthly series which is designed to help participants identify available housing options and develop a plan to realize their individual long-term housing objectives.


Volunteer support given to members in the last quarter

Our caring, talented and enthusiastic service volunteers have answered a variety of member calls for assistance and have fulfilled many service requests including

  • Help with iPhoto
  • Creating a video of member reading her short stories
  • Teaching how to use a flip cell phone
  • Help making a casserole
  • Mending clothing
  • Organizing books for donating or retention
  • Reading aloud from books and magazines
  • Photographing personal items for insurance
  • Helping to carry items to curbside recycling   

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By Karin Evans

If there's anyone around Ashby Village these days who exemplifies the qualities of leadership, it's Beth Burnside, Professor Emerita of Cell and Developmental Biology and retired Vice Chancellor at the University of California, Berkeley. Currently a member of the Ashby Village Program Leadership Team, Burnside is devoting her considerable experience and energy to finding fresh ways to keep Ashby Village vital and viable. She's no stranger to challenges. While at the University, she oversaw the reorganization of the Life Sciences Departments and went on to streamline administrative procedures for science researchers.

Beth Burnside at the 
2013 Ashby Village Holiday Party


Burnside found Ashby Village after reading an AARP article a few years back that explored the village movement taking root across the U.S. "I thought, this is such a good idea," she recalls. "I live alone and it appealed to me to join people who wanted to have that kind of community. I wondered at the time whether there might be something like that in Berkeley." About a year went by and Burnside got an email describing what Ashby Village was up to. "I thought, ah, there is one in Berkeley. I immediately joined."


Once a member, it took Burnside no time to get to work. "I felt very passionately about the village's mission," she recalls. She currently chairs the Neighborhood Group Council. "I have primarily been trying to get these neighborhood groups started, beginning with Kensington, working with Ashby Village Board member Betty Webster. We get together once a month to figure out ways to help established neighborhood groups thrive and get them started where no one has stepped up to be a coordinator. People from groups that are already active are volunteering to make themselves available to others who want to start up." Right now the team is working on starting up neighborhood groups in North Berkeley and in the Elmwood.


It can be a challenge to find people to assume a leadership role, Burnside admits. But she will be the first to say that the rewards of jumping in far outweigh the work involved. She still has time to engage in the artwork she always wanted to do but postponed when she was at University.


"I have very much enjoyed my involvement with Ashby Village," Burnside says. "The Village gathers together a remarkable group of people. It's an amazing organization. I haven't met anyone I haven't liked, and that's not something you can say about too many groups!"

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Eleanor Lew is a volunteer with Ashby Village and a marriage and family therapist who practices in Berkeley and Emeryville. Her personal story, "One Moment You See, Then You Don't," about being diagnosed with degenerative myopia was published in the New York Times on August 21, 2014. After the diagnosis, Eleanor called around and, according to her, "found little help for the 'partly sighted' until a friend told me to call Ashby Village, one of about 120 'villages' that have been established throughout the country to help seniors live independently in their own homes. That's how I found Thelma Elkins, a 90-year-old former social worker who had just founded a support group for those losing their vision.


Thelma and the group have become my lifeline, a place where we can share notes about the newest research and talk about the anger and fears that at times overwhelm us. At the beginning, a few members didn't see the necessity of opening up and talking about feelings. They left the group. The rest of us understood the importance of staying connected to others, of countering the isolation that declining vision brings."  

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Recognizing the Archstone Foundation

In August 2011, Ashby Village was a proud recipient of a two-year grant from the Archstone Foundation as part of its "Creating Age Friendly Communities by Building Sustainable Village Models" Initiative. Joined by eight other Villages in the state of California, so began a deep exploration of the capacity of our Villages, and rewarding working relationships with Archstone, researchers at U.C. Berkeley and Capital Impact Partners. Continued for a third year, the grant was brought to a close yesterday, September 30, 2014. These funds have allowed us to make the critical increase in staff necessary to build and improve our programs and services, to participate in the most comprehensive evaluation of Villages to date, and to conduct both short and long-term planning.


As we transition from this substantive source of funding, Ashby Village is actively seeking to diversify its revenue by creating a culture of philanthropy within our Village, pursuing additional targeted grant funding, and cultivating corporate relationships. We are enormously grateful to the Archstone Foundation for having the vision to help Ashby Village grow from infancy to maturity, to enter and enrich the lives of so many new members, and to thrive.

Lisa Brinkmann, Executive Director of Marin Villages, welcomes participants

Bay Area Village Exchange
What does it mean when 40 representatives from over 15 Villages from our region come together for two meetings - without being funded or paid to do it? On September 11th in Sausalito, the Bay Regional Area Village Organization ("BRAVO") enjoyed a second dynamic meeting of individuals from Villages at diverse levels of development. What we all have in common is a belief and desire for the expansion of the Village model.


Many Villages at the meeting shared a need for strategies and ideas to support the sustainability of their organizations. Another common thread was Villages in their early stages who need educational, organizational and financial resources. What was most meaningful was the clear desire of Villages to support each other, to collaborate and cultivate peer-to-peer relationship, as well as to keep meeting regularly. This is an important time for Ashby Village to be part of a regional Village movement.



On Wednesday, September 24th, representatives from Ashby and San Francisco Villages introduced the Village movement to the California Department of Aging's Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program (HICAP), which provides free, unbiased counseling related to Medicare. In addition to workshops directly related to Medicare, HICAP provides sessions of interest to people who work in the aging community. 


HICAP's planning committee responded favorably to the Village concept and requested more information about how it might work with the Village movement. Potential public and private partnerships were identified, and the important roles each of the entities play in healthy aging were recognized.

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Program Leadership Team Chairs


Shirley Jowell; Mary Jo Powell -



Irene Marcos,



Joan Cole -, Kristina Holland -

Marcia Freedman Bureau)


Liz Raymer -, Roberta Pressman -, Audre Newman - (Welcome Wagon), Julianne Morris - (Social Care Triage), Anne Aronov - (Social Care Triage)











CHAIR: Patricia Sussman


MEMBERS: Bob Davis, Marcia Freedman, Steve Lustig, Laura Peck, Roberta Pressman, Pat Sakai, Betty Webster

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